CAIRO (NEWSnet/AP) — Hamas said Thursday that its delegation has left Cairo and that talks on a Gaza cease-fire and hostage release will resume next week.

Mediators had looked to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as an informal deadline because the month of dawn-to-dusk fasting often sees Israeli-Palestinian violence linked to access to a major Jerusalem holy site.

Egyptian officials had earlier said the negotiations had reached a dead end over Hamas’ demand for a phased process to end the war. But they did not rule out a deal before Ramadan, which is expected to begin on Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly ruled out Hamas’ demands, saying Israel intends to resume the offensive after any cease-fire, expand it to the crowded southern city of Rafah and battle on until “total victory.”

The U.S., Egypt and Qatar have been trying for weeks to broker an agreement on a six-week cease-fire and the release of 40 hostages held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

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